SAN ANTONIO (April 21, 2013) -- Transitioning from an orderly, regimented military world to an eclectic, sometimes unstructured civilian world presents new opportunities -- and some dilemmas -- for transitioning service members seeking the next job or career.

Military service is rigorous and demanding, especially through long years of war and multiple deployments. Many service members look forward to their transition to civilian life, eagerly anticipating conventional working hours, more time with family and friends, and relief from the disruption of day-to-day life caused by long and repeated deployments.

At the same time, with this new-found freedom comes a new set of responsibilities--a new set of choices and consequences of choices. For example, if you're not required to wear a uniform every day--what will you wear? If you don't have military protocol to guide your mannerisms, how will you conduct yourself?

"Transition back to civilian life is an exciting time, but stress can creep in when you face a lot of variables that you're not used to working with," said Mitchell Lee, transition coordinator in the G3 Operations directorate of the Installation Management Command.

If you're interviewing for employment, the way you dress matters. The way you carry yourself matters. Physical appearance and body language are critical in shaping the interviewer's first impression of you. That impression forms in about two seconds or less, and lays the groundwork for the rest of the encounter. If you're not comfortable with your new civilian suit and don't know how to interact professionally, your chance of success decreases tremendously.

You want your first impression to be not just a good one, but a great one. The fact is, if you've worn the uniform of your country long enough to get used to it, your skills are rusty and you'll have to get back up to speed. You can do it, but you can use a little help.

"The adjustment process is a little daunting, but there are plenty of reference materials to help you work through it," Lee said. "Your Army Career and Alumni Program office has advice for any aspect of the job search, and an internet search engine will net many links to articles and checklists for dressing for success."

One such checklist is published by Afterburner, Inc., a corporate training and consulting firm founded and run by a group of former fighter pilots. See http://www.afterburnerplacement.com/pdf/US-Army-Transitioning-Tips-from-Afterburner-Interview-Checklist.pdf (used with permission).

Find a long, comprehensive checklist, covering the areas of most concern to job interviewers. Read it well--print it and keep it handy. The advice will serve you well in working successfully through the career transition process.

"You don't have to do this alone--use the resources available to succeed during this important transition period," Lee said.

Page last updated Mon April 22nd, 2013 at 00:00